in

The Dodgers’ Top 5 Most Underrated Players So Far

The Dodgers are currently sitting on top of the NL West division with a record of 59-47. After a rocky start to the season in which the team struggled to score runs and close out games, the Dodgers have righted the ship and come together as a team. This has mainly come about by unsuspecting players stepping up and playing at an elite level such as Max Muncy and Ross Stripling. Although these two key players are not on this top 5 list due to their appropriate hype and appreciation, they represent the type of players that we will be talking about. These are the guys that do their jobs day in and day out and keep the train rolling in a behind the scenes fashion.

#5

Dodgers
May 27, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Josh Fields (46) celebrates after the game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Fields

While Fields is currently on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, he has performed well for the Dodgers in 2018. He has posted a 2.36 ERA and 0.932 WHIP over 34.1 innings pitched. These are the type of numbers you want to see from a middle reliever. He has even filled in for Kenley Jansen on occasion and recorded 2 saves for the Dodgers thus far. Although he has not pitched in the month of July, the Dodgers will be thrilled to have him back as a bullpen option soon.

#4

Walker Buehler

How did Buehler make it on this list? Mainly because he has been overshadowed a bit by the excellent performances by the likes of Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, and Ross Stripling. While I am in no way saying that the Dodger community underrates the potential of Walker Buehler as a future ace and all-star, I do believe that the majority of us do not understand how truly magnificent he was before hitting the disabled list  on June 12th. Since his return, he has struggled admittedly but will soon return to form as he was due for some regression to the mean.

From April to the beginning of June, Buehler compiled the following line: 9 starts, 6-3 record, 2.63 ERA, and has kept hitters to a .203 batting average. Those are the type of numbers that prevents the Dodger front office from trading you even amidst intense interest from other teams.

 

#3

Dodgers
Aug 12, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Erik Goeddel (62) throws during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Erik Goeddel

Ever since the Dodgers claimed Goeddel off waivers from the Seattle Mariners, he has produced. With a mid-90s fourseam fastball and a devastating splitter that leaves batters chasing, Goeddel has become a rather consistent presence in the bullpen. Posting a 2.67 ERA and 10.7 K/9 (elite) Goeddel has shined as a Dodger.

Perhaps the greatest asset Goeddel brings to the Dodger bullpen is his ability to retire batters from both sides of the plate. As a right-handed pitcher, he should naturally have an advantage against right-handed batters. Since becoming a Dodger, right-handed batters have batted only .222 against him. What all the more impressive, left-handed hitters are hitting a meager .151 against him. That is enough for Erik Goeddel to earn my number 3 spot on the underrated player list thus far in 2018.

#2

Dodgers
May 12, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Chris Taylor (3) is congratulated in the dugout after scoring on a RBI double by third baseman Max Muncy (not pictured) during the fifth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Taylor

For the majority of 2018 critics have accused Chris Taylor of regression, pointing to last year’s success as a fluke. The reality is last year’s sky-high production was unsustainable but was in no way a fluke. Taylor reformed his swing to improve his launch angle before coming over to the Dodgers in 2016 and began to reap the benefits during the start of the 2017 season. Taylor has very quietly posted effective numbers for a hitter atop the lineup in 2018.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the 2017 season verses the 2018 season thus far:

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS WAR
2017 140 568 514 85 148 34 5 21 72 17 50 142 .288 .354 .496 .850 4.8
2018 104 437 389 62 101 25 8 12 50 4 37 123 .260 .334 .458 .792 3.2

Furthermore, he is currently leading all Dodger position players in WAR with a healthy 3.2. Yes, you read that right. Taylor has been arguably the most valuable position player for the Dodgers in 2018 even over the likes of Max Muncy, Matt Kemp, and Justin Turner. This is all while filling in for an injured Corey Seager at shortstop which has not been his typical fielding position. In terms of the all-around baseball player, no one on the Dodgers does it better than Chris Taylor. Not even my number 1# underrated pick takes that crown who is a utility man himself.

#1

Kike Hernandez

Hernandez is hitting for a .218 AVG, strikes out 19.5% of the time at the plate, and owns a .213 BABIP. So why in the world do I consider him the #1 underrated player on the Dodger squad? Because he hits the long ball, fields every position on the field except catcher (fingers crossed we’ll see that this season), and has clutch moment after clutch moment.

Kike fields every position for the Dodgers and can be plugged into a lineup in a moments notice without a concern. His current fielding percentage of all positions combined in 2018 is a stellar .990. he has only made 4

May 3, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Kike Hernandez (14) works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

errors on the year which is remarkable when you think of how many different positions he is being asked to play and when he is basically playing every day.

Now how about his bat? Kike has clubbed 17 homers on the year which is tied for the second most on the team behind Max Muncy. He also carries the 6th highest WAR on the team among position players with a 1.4 rating which is excellent for a utility player.

Finally, Kike has a number of qualities that cannot be measured on paper. He is an excellent clubhouse presence that keeps the team laughing and in good spirits at all times. Don’t believe me? The next Dodger game you watch look for Kike in the dugout after a teammate hits a home run. You’ll laugh your head off with the celebration he will give. Furthermore, Kike has shown consistently that he loves the big moment and can shine during it. Who could forget this “magic trick” slide to walk off against the Rangers earlier in the year?

[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”samewindow” url=”http://www.dodgersnation.com/dodgers-ross-stripling-placed-on-disabled-list-bh0796/2018/07/30/”]Stripling Placed on DL[/button]

Written by Eric Morse

Born and raised in Southern Oregon, Eric has always had a love for baseball. Growing up visiting LA often to watch the Dodgers, Eric comes from a long line of Dodger fanatics. He spends his time ministering to youth and following the Dodgers.

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Loading…

0

Comments

0 Leave a Comment

Dodgers: Team Announces Manny Machado Bobblehead Night

Dodgers

Dodgers: How Mannywood Came to Be Ten Years Ago